“The man must learn to know his dog as a personality, not a formula.” -George Bird Evans
“Peat No!” I yelled at the top of my lungs as he booked full speed through the dog door and outside to the backyard with a big piece of cauliflower firmly gripped in his mouth. The piece had rolled off the kitchen counter and onto the floor. I followed him outside to the backyard out of pure curiosity to see if he’d actually eat his sudden treasure. He did eat it. It surprised me because our dogs have always disliked raw vegetables in any shape or form. Peat has an uncanny knack for appearing to be sleeping but the second somethings falls on the kitchen floor or when a bird hits our big living room window outside, he’s all over it. Angus with his deafness hasn’t been part of this game lately. A sad reality.
The week before, while getting the toaster from the pantry, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a lightening streak zip past me. Peat was just starting to bolt through the dog door with a plastic package in his mouth that he pulled off the shelf behind me. I managed to grab his fast, furry hind end just as he was halfway to a corn tortilla bliss.
I started making handwritten lists of things Peat has snatched and taken through the dog door. I’m not sure why I started it, but maybe because deep down in my perverted mind I thought it was funny. How can you get mad at a bird dog that is so obsessed with putting things in his mouth and carrying them around?
Prescription glasses, two pairs — one of Bob’s, one of mine — were the bigger ticket items Peat carried outside and destroyed. The rest were smaller items, like a $10 coffee gift certificate, boxer shorts belonging to a guest, throw rug, entire pan of brownies that were in a plastic container, silicone computer keyboard protector x 2, kitchen sponges, 3-, dime store reading glasses (several pairs of which he’d sometimes bring back inside to chew on some more in front of us like it was no big deal), kitchen spatula, custom osage wooden spoon, entire loaf of nice artisan bread, insulated cooler bag, Tupperware container + lid, fleece blanket, towel from bathroom, lunch bag with apple inside which he pulled out and ate in front of us while we were in the hot tub staring at him with disgust, pot holder, brewing equipment foil insulation, Zippo metal hand warmer, Kitchen-Aid mixer lid, stack of old Christmas and birthday greeting cards, expensive fly-tying rooster hackle, Tupperware bowl full of huckleberry muffins of which he ate the entire batch. I’m sure I’m missed things, but you get the picture and not everything was destroyed. He’s very selective. He ate some of them and has earned more than one trip to the vet. Remorse was nowhere to be seen in Peat’s visage.
Bob on the other hand isn’t so amused by Peat’s shenanigans because during Peat’s first season of hunting he grabbed from Angus’s mouth at least the first 6 chukar Bob shot that season and refused to return them. I don’t think Peat really cared. Bob did.
Yes, it’s okay that you blame us or me. We put things where there is a good chance he might grab them. The one second you let your guard down he takes advantage of it because he’s no dummy, plus he’s one fast mofo. I’m sure some of you can relate and have similar stories of your own high energy bird dog and their attempt to get your attention. We didn’t have a dog door until Angus was about three years old but do remember him managing to squeeze one of the large couch cushion pillows through the medium-sized dog door to take outside to chew on. Angus had his share of destroyed objects but not as many. You forget these things and end up with another puppy sometime in your lifetime again, and then you remember. Some of us, like a bad habit, keep doing it over and over.
I’m the first to admit that Peat isn’t perfect. He’s not spectacular, and he’s a total piece of work. Bob blames it on not enough exercise in the off season. I blame it on Peat being Peat. I could also blame it on some bad advice we got from a dog trainer friend that told us when Peat was a puppy, “Don’t yell at him when he puts something in his mouth and try to make him give it up; he might get confused and think it’s a bad thing and then not want to retrieve anything.” Some of us aren’t the best dog trainers and handlers, and we are included in that group. Peat, our badly behaved dog at home turned into a fantastic upland hunting dog. The only downfall from Peat is now Angus has to be coaxed into releasing a retrieved bird to hand because of his fear that Peat might intercept it.
We almost gave up on Peat. I’m glad we didn’t. Don’t ever give up on your puppy or dog. He or she might come around and surprise you, and allow you to buy that new pair of glasses you really wanted.